Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos, known by the stage name Criss Angel, is an American magician, illusionist and musician. Angel began his career in New York City, before moving his base of operations to the Las Vegas Valley. He is known for starring in the television and stage show Criss Angel Mindfreak and his previous live performance illusion show Criss Angel Believe in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil. Take a look below for 33 more bizarre and interesting facts about Criss Angel.
1. Angel was born on December 19, 1967, at Hempstead General Hospital in Hempstead, Long Island, New York.
2. He is of Greek descent.
3. Angel was raised in Elmont until fourth grade, when his family moved to East Meadow, New York.
4. His father, John Sarantakos, owned a restaurant and doughnut shop.
5. He developed an interest in magic at age seven and performed his first show at the age of twelve, for which he was paid $10.
6. His main early influence was Harry Houdini.
7. By fourteen, Angel was performing throughout high school at restaurants in East Meadow, including the Wine Gallery. Angel’s first major illusion was making his mother float in their family den.
8. Early in his career he was helped by animal breeder and reality-television host Marc Morrone, who helped Angel find and train a set of doves for his act.
9. By the time he graduated from East Meadow High School, he had decided to pursue a career as a professional magician instead of attending college as his parents wanted.
10. According to Biography Channel, “Angel hit the road and began touring with other traveling performance acts. Between traveling and performing, he attempted to further his education in his own by studying the history of magic in public libraries. He also studied the art of mysticism, music, martial arts and even dance.”
11. His first television appearance was in 1994, where he performed as a part of a one-hour ABC primetime special entitled Secrets.
12. One of the early supporters of Angel was horror director Clive Barker. In 1995, Barker asked Angel to work with him on his film Lord of Illusions.
13. In August 2002, Angel spent 24 hours shackled underwater in a phone booth-sized water torture cell near the WWE entertainment store in New York’s Times Square, WWE corporation being the owners of the World Underground Theatre where Angel had been performing his stage show.
14. To prepare for the trick, he practiced in a neighbor’s backyard swimming pool next to his mother’s house in East Meadow, New York. Prior to the performance he had only managed to spend 12 consecutive hours in the water. He fasted for 24 hours before the performance to make it through the period without need to exit and use the washroom.
15. During the trick he went through 16 oxygen tanks. After the trick he was required to remove his own shackles and chains before exiting the water. Within an hour, his skin began to react substantially to the water.
16. At the end of the performance, according to Ted Shaffrey, “Before he emerged from the phone-booth sized contraption of clear plastic and steel, Angel yanked out the air hose that allowed him to breathe. Then assistants pulled a black curtain over the 220-gallon (832-liter) chamber to block the view of television cameras and about 100 people gathered outside the window in which he was displayed. Under cover, Angel apparently escaped from the shackles that bound his arms, legs and neck, before pulling himself from the watery chamber with a celebratory scream.”
17. Upon successfully completing the trick, he was described as having “skin crinkled and his eyes bloodshot”, and upon emerging from the tank he was taken to St. Clare’s Hospital and treated for severe dehydration. He reported afterwards that he had suffered from overheating, jaw fatigue, and semi-consciousness while in the tank.
18. Angel was the frontman for the heavy metal band Angel and collaborated with industrial rock musician Klay Scott for Angeldust.
19. Angeldust released its debut album Musical Conjurings From the World of Illusion in 1998. He later released the albums System 1, System 2, and System 3.
20. Angel is the author of the book Mindfreak: Secret Revelations, published by Harper Entertainment in 2007.
21. Criss Angel is the most watched magician in Internet history since the late 2000s. His clip, “Walk on Water”, had received more than 39 million views by 2010, and more than 46 million by 2013.
22. By early 2013, his videos had achieved more than 200 million views. Another highly watched clip is “Rip Bodies Apart” taken from the premiere episode of BeLIEve, which had more than twelve million views within a month.
23. In 2010, Angel partnered with IdeaVillage to release the Criss Angel Magic Collection, which contained six Mindfreak Magic Tricks instructions, 250 tricks, and a magic kit for children. The product was backed by $50 million in marketing.
24. Angel won the International Magician Society’s Magician of the Year award in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008, in addition to its “Magician of the Decade” title in 2009 and “Magician of the Century” title in 2010.
25. He was the 22nd recipient of the Louie Award for outstanding achievement in the art of magic.
26. In 2008, Angel was one of the inaugural nominees for the Harry Houdini Award, awarded by the Harry Houdini Museum.
27. Angel is the youngest magician to ever be inducted into the International Magician Society’s Magic Hall of Fame. He is also the only man to have won the Merlin Magician of the Year award on two occasions, in 2001 and 2004.
28. Angel is the holder of several world records, including the longest time submerged under water and the fastest time to escape from a straitjacket at two minutes and thirty seconds, the longest body suspension at 5 hours 42 minutes, and the fastest time to perform the “Metamorphosis” illusion at less than one second.
29. He is also the holder of the Guinness world record for “The most people to disappear in an illusion”, for making 100 people disappear on May 26, 2010 during a performance of Believe at the Luxor.
30. In 2002, Angel married his longtime girlfriend JoAnn Winkhart. The couple filed for divorce four years later.
31. Although Angel was seen with his wife in the buried alive illusion (season 1, episode 6, 2005) and the body suspension illusion (season 1, episode 5, 2005), she was not credited as his wife; rather, she was listed as “Criss’ Girl”.
32. In November 2008, Angel began dating Holly Madison, former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner. The relationship ended in February 2009.
33. He proposed to Sandra Gonzalez on September 7, 2011 in Cabo San Lucas during a sunset dinner.